Bill Bailey: Bewilderness

Note: This review is from 2001

Review by Steve Bennett

With The Lord Of The Rings movie in production, what better time for Britain's most Tolkeinesque comedian to take to the road again.

For Bill Bailey, the self-confessed 'bug-eyed wizard' of comedy, has always attracted a certain hippy weirdo following.

It's an image he's not tried hard to dispel - the long-haired beardie dope casualty bemused by life's every turn. Indeed, this very tour is called Bewilderment.

But that stereotype, though a great on-stage persona, belies the intelligence and talent behind yet another brilliant show.

Sure, she talks about munching Pringle sandwiches and giant Kit-Kats, but slipped into a routine about theoretical astrophysics. Now there's a topic few comics tackle.

Such juxtaposition is the key to Bailey's inspired but understated humour. It's a comedy staple, of course, but Bailey's gift is twofold: first the epic size of his frame of reference, mixing ideas poles apart for maximum effect, and second the sneaky route into such bizarre hybrids is so natural to make the ideas, at least momentarily, seem almost credible.

Who else could get away with a Tom Clancy novel as written by Jane Austen, or the ruthless band of Cockney Stormtroopers in Star Wars, without such blatently ridiculous ideas seeming forced?

It's no surprise that many of these gags are musical, Bailey being one of the few musical comics with a genuine gift of finding intelligent material within a piece, rather than simply rewriting lyrics to contain a few knob gags.

And not only does he have an ear for music, but for language, too. His monologues always invoking just the right turn of phrase to conjure up surreally funny images, often en route to some bizarre tangent.

Such segments are no more fillers between musical numbers, but crafted and inspired flights of whimsy: strong stand-up routines in their own right.

But, ultimately, it is the musical virtuosity that puts Bailey top of his game, and again he doesn't disappoint with the usual silly reworkings of everything from Tchaikovsky to The Magic Roundabout theme.

This two-hour excursion into a brilliantly original comic mind is a rip-roaring treat. Do yourself a favour and witness this great comedy talent for yourself.

Review date: 1 Jan 2001
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.